mHealth Education Applications Along the Cancer Continuum.
The majority of adults worldwide own a mobile phone, including those in under-resourced communities. Mobile health (mhealth) education technologies present a promising mechanism for improving cancer prevention, treatment, and follow-up. The purpose of this study was to summarize the literature related to mobile phone (mhealth) applications for patient education specific to cancer and identify current recommendations from randomized studies. In particular, we were interested in identifying mobile phone applications along the cancer continuum, from cancer prevention to survivorship. The authors identified 28 articles reporting on mobile applications for patients related to cancer. Articles were identified in all categories along the cancer continuum, including health professional involvement in application development. Of these, six involved direct patient education, and eight focused on improving patient/professional communication and patient self-management. However, only six of the studies were randomized interventions. The potential for mobile applications to help overcome the "health care gap" has not yet been realized in the studies from the USA that were reviewed for this paper. However, early recommendations are emerging that support the use of mHealth communications to change behaviors for cancer prevention, early detection, and symptom management and improved patient-provider communication. Recommendations include short messages, use of multiple modalities as patient characteristics dictate comfort with mHealth communication, and the inclusion of patients and health professionals to develop and test applications. Tailoring mHealth to particular cultures, languages, and ethnic groups may also represent a unique possibility to provide accessible information and education at minimal cost for under-resourced communities and individuals.
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